The Netherlands health ministry has revised its guidelines to allow severely demented patients to be euthanized. However, an advance directive which was made when the patient was lucid is required.
The guidelines acknowledge that patients often do not seem to be suffering unbearably because of their dementia. However, they still suffer from conditions like severe anxiety and pain. “In those cases a doctor may give euthanasia, even if a patient can not make it clear in words or gesture,” says the ministry. “But there has to be a written request for euthanasia, that the patient drew up earlier.”
The guidelines were updated to make the position of doctors more legally secure. Some demented patients have been euthanized, but there is uncertainty about whether or not such actions were lawful.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.